Saturday 22 November 2014
The Greens today announced their moves to limit the damage that the Smart and Skilled training market will do to TAFE.
The Greens first bill to stop Smart and Skilled and freeze the funding of private providers passed the Upper House but failed in the Lower House last week.
The Greens now accept that Smart and Skilled will be a reality for 2015 if the Baird government is re-elected but will be moving to stop it growing as it did in Victoria where TAFE has been residualised to just 27% of student enrolments.
Greens NSW MP John Kaye told the NSW Teachers Federation council meeting this morning that in the new parliament the Greens will move legislation to:
- limit non-TAFE providers to just 20% of the public funding pie
- stop any new training providers receiving public funding
- prohibit for-profit corporations from receiving public funding.
The current round of Smart and Skilled contracts limits the number going to non-TAFE providers but this is the result of an administrative decision, which could be changed at any time.
There is a very real risk that NSW will head down the same disastrous path as Victoria, Queensland and South Australia where TAFE is becoming a minor player in an increasingly competitive vocational education and training market.
Greens NSW MP John Kaye said: “Education Minister Adrian Piccoli appears to have held back pressure from Treasury to decimate TAFE for the 2015 round of allocations of public funding.
“With the Smart and Skilled market going live early in the New Year, he was no doubt able to argue that the Baird-Grant government did not need a bad news story on the eve of an election.
“From 2016 onwards, without the pressure of an election, TAFE in NSW faces the same grim future that has seen the public provider in Victoria relegated to the margins.
“The Greens believe that only legislation that limits the spread of private providers and prohibits profits being made from public funding can secure a future for TAFE.
“Treasury sees TAFE as a sitting target and wants to wipe it out as their Victorian colleagues have done.
“TAFE hangs by a very thin thread. One administrative decision at the end of next year and the system could go into free fall.
“We will be campaigning throughout the 2015 election for legislated protection that saves TAFE from the designs that Treasury has for the future of training in NSW,” Dr Kaye said.
The Greens today launched in the Waratah Room in NSW Parliament House their bill to stop TAFE becoming the victim of budget cuts, rising fees, job losses and a training market that will privatise skills training.
Greens NSW MP and Education spokesperson John Kaye said: “TAFE has been driven to the brink of collapse.
“Public provision of vocational education and training is already facing budget cuts of $800 million, soaring fees, cancelled course and hundreds of TAFE educators sacked.
“In early 2015 the new Smart and Skilled market will force TAFE to compete for students and funding with low quality, low cost private providers.
“Under a deal with the previous Federal Labor government, NSW is about to implement a skills training market that will inevitably result in TAFE either disappearing or being forced to cut its standards to meet the private sector’s lower costs.
“Disadvantaged students, those with special needs, people from non-English speaking backgrounds, the long-term unemployed and women who have been out of the workforce will be the hardest hit.
“Outreach and equity programs will become add-ons that are unlikely to survive.
“Our bill is designed to put a hold on TAFE budget cuts, job losses, fee rises and the Smart and Skilled market. We want to give the O’Farrell government time to think again.
“Without a strong public provider of vocational education and training, NSW will face rising youth unemployment, increasing levels of inequality and disadvantage and an economy that is unable to grow.
“The O’Farrell government must drop the ideology of training markets and ensure a strong future for public TAFE.
“Cuts to TAFE are not smart but irresponsible because courses will cost more and many people will not be able to afford to gain vocational skills.
“Privatising our public education does not make sense. We need TAFE now more than ever,” Dr Kaye said.
For more information: John Kaye 0407 195 455
State and federal governments, both Labor and Coalition, have driven TAFE to the brink of collapse, despite the massive economic and social benefits of publicly provided vocational education and training.
The Greens TAFE Changes Moratorium (Secure Future for Public Provision of Vocational Education and Training) Bill 2013 will be introduced into the NSW parliament in the next fortnight and aims to:
- restore TAFE funding by reversing massive budget cuts,
- stop rising fees and job losses, and
- freeze the O’Farrell government’s aggressive Smart and Skilled market that would create a race to the bottom with low cost, low quality private providers.
The bill is expected to be introduced into parliament in November.
Copies of the bill and other campaign materials are available on request.
Students are spending more time cleaning and stocking storerooms and less time learning under TAFE budget cuts which have slashed support staff numbers, according to the NSW Public Service Association.
The PSA supports the launch of a Bill today aimed at reversing TAFE budget cuts, losses of more than 800 jobs and fee increases of up to 9.5%.
General Secretary Anne Gardiner said the proposed cuts would not deliver better education outcomes for students and risks dismantling TAFE NSW’s gold standard of vocational education.
“The State government’s attack on TAFE funding and jobs will increase skills shortages in areas vital to the economy and impact on the long-term economic wellbeing of NSW,” Ms Gardiner said today.
“The O’Farrell government cannot claim it wants a ‘smart and skilled’ workforce then introduce cuts that will pull apart the best system we have to deliver vocational education.
“Our members tell us that cutbacks are already reducing students’ access to learning support services, including lack of IT and technical support and maintenance of classrooms and laboratories.
“There have also been cuts in student support roles designed to assist vulnerable and disadvantaged students gain TAFE qualifications, such as disability support staff, library staff and jobs providing counselling and student welfare support.
“In addition to hundreds of job cuts, more staff will be forced into insecure part-time and casual work positions.
“The full extent of the damage to TAFE will unfold over coming years but what’s certain is the damage will be difficult, if not impossible, to reverse.
“The NSW government should reverse budget and job cuts to TAFE NSW and stop placing obstacles in the way of students who want the skills needed for better job opportunities,” Ms Gardiner said.
The NSW Government has things the wrong way around: axing 15,000 jobs before looking closely at the operation of the NSW public sector, says the NSW Public Service Association.
The PSA has welcomed the release of the inaugural State of the NSW Public Sector Report (www.psc.nsw.gov.au) and its in-depth look at the states public sector workers, which reveals insights including the high level of job insecurity in the public sector.
However, the release of the report after cutting 15,000 public sector jobs confirms the OFarrell Governments cuts have been arbitrary and driven by ideology, PSA Assistant Secretary Steve Turner said today. The government hasn’t made a case for the need to cut thousands of jobs out of the public sector; it has been wielding the axe just for the sake of it.
It has made a series of decisions that haven’t been in the interests of the public or its workforce – closing Grafton jail, relocating Cronulla Fisheries, messing up funding for school transport for disabled children.
It has revealed no plans to invest its accidental budget windfall of $1 billion back into public services and secure jobs.
The report released today reveals systemic problems faced by the NSW public sector workforce, said Mr Turner.
The People Matters survey released as part of this report confirms the public sector workers are proud of the work they do, but it also paints a picture of growing dissatisfaction and stress as their jobs are cut and rights taken away.
The survey of employees shows:
- 49% are stressed at work
- 78% frequently have too much work to do
- 58% say change is not handled well
There is a widespread feeling both within the public service and wider community that the attack on hard-working public sector workers and the services they deliver has gone too far.
CONTACT: Steve Turner 0418 675 564 / Jane Garcia 0434 489 533
The Public Service Association of NSW is urging Treasurer Mike Baird to reverse harsh cuts to jobs and public services on news there is an extra billion dollars in NSW government coffers.
“Disregarding the question of how you lose a billion dollars – this is a welcome surprise for the people of NSW,” said PSA Assistant Secretary Steve Turner.
“It means the O’Farrell Government can restore security to 15,000 NSW families by reversing its indiscriminate public sector job cuts.
“It can restore confidence in the public education system by restoring funding to public schools.
“It can allay fears about the health system by restoring funding to hospitals.
“It can give back hope to young people looking for the skills training for a future career by reversing cuts to TAFE.”
The government can no longer hide behind the façade of a budget black hole to make excuses for its program of cuts to jobs and services, said Mr Turner.
“The government must outline its plan for restoring critical public sector jobs and services with the billion-dollar windfall.
“The people of NSW want a government that will deliver security for the future – that means job security, work rights and world-class services. All this government has delivered is cuts.”
Contact: Jane Garcia 0434 489 533
The Community and Public Sector Union, which represents TAFE education support staff, is concerned changes to TAFE course funding announced today, combined with the previously announced job cuts, will compromise the quality of education offered to NSW students.
Community and Public Sector Union, NSW Branch Secretary, John Cahill said there is nothing in today’s announcement to suggest the State Government’s proposed changes will help build a better, more sustainable TAFE system.
“The contestable funding model for TAFE has been a disaster in Victoria, and I’ve seen nothing today that convinces me we will avoid the same pitfalls in NSW,” Mr Cahill said.
“TAFE has been gold standard in NSW vocational education and training for generations – meeting the needs of students and industry. Why should our high-quality education system be thrown into unequal competition with low-quality, cut-rate providers?
“Forced competition and new guidelines for course funding will not increase vocational training for all, it will create ‘winners’ and ‘losers’ among students and reduce high-quality education options.
“The Government claims TAFE will still be a provider of choice, while it introduces measures that really limit student’s choice – de-funding long-running courses, raising fees, cutting department budgets and slashing 800 jobs.
“The standard of learning will be affected by a reduction in the staff employed to maintain resources and infrastructure such as classrooms, laboratories, equipment and tools.
“We are already seeing a diversion of money away from student services into marketing as TAFE institutes gear up to compete with private providers.
“We have also yet to see how access for low-income and disabled students will be safeguarded under the new model.
“We call on the State Government to consider what’s best for both students and industry by abandoning moves for TAFE privatisation and cutbacks,” he said.
Contact: Andrew Holland 0418 236 867 / Jane Garcia 0434 489 533
Drastic cuts announced to NSW’s TAFE system today will see skill levels in NSW decline and disproportionately affect students in regional areas, the Community and Public Sector Union said today.
The NSW Government has announced that 800 jobs will be cut while course fees are increased under savage cuts to the education budget.
“You can’t cut this many jobs and resources out of TAFE without affecting vocational education standards in NSW,” said CPSU State Secretary John Cahill.
“TAFE has been the gold standard in NSW vocational education and training for generations – meeting the needs of students and industry.
“But the drastic staff cuts and the axe of some specialist courses will leave students with less support and fewer options.
“Students in regional areas will be disproportionately affected by today’s announcement – they rely on TAFE for accessible, high-quality skills training. Regional economies will also be affected as jobs are cut from the local TAFE.
“We’ve seen shocking stories of dodgy private operators moving in to the vocational education space – a properly-resourced accessible TAFE system is the best way to counter students being exploited and ripped off.”
The cuts will affect all 10 TAFE Institutes across NSW.
Today’s announcement would put fear into all TAFE employees, said Mr Cahill.
“TAFE staff this week voted up a new enterprise agreement locking in their working conditions.
“Just as they celebrate a new workplace agreement, they now learn they could lose their job. It’s a terrible position for thousands of TAFE employees across NSW.”
Contact: Andrew Holland (CPSU Senior Industrial Officer) 0418 236 667
- TAFE support staff enterprise bargaining bulletin 2
- TAFE support staff enterprise bargaining bulletin
- TAFE NSW apologises to students for enrolment delays caused by new software – ABC News
- Newcastle Hamilton TAFE rally
- TAFE Bulletin re Defending Public Services Doorknocking Campaign – 12 February 2015